Brazil Ponders Heterosexual Pride Parade
The city of São Paulo approved legislation last week that would bring a heterosexual pride day to the city, if the Mayor approves it. Carlos Apolinario, the bill’s sponsor, said the legislation was “not anti-gay,” but rather “a protest against the privileges the gay community enjoys.”
“I have no trouble coexisting with gays as long as their behavior is normal,” Apolinario told the press.
That’s OK, I don’t have a problem with heterosexuals—so long as they act gay in public.
At any rate, this interesting development in the world of straight pride parades reminded me of a story I wrote last year for Outlooks Magazine. Since it was never published on this site, you can read it for the first time in digital form after the jump.
On Heterosexual Pride
(Originally published in the June 2010 edition of Outlooks Magazine.)
“If you perverts want to be treated as equals, stop ramming your perverse lifestyle in our faces!” Those were the words that greeted me in my email inbox this morning. Being the slightly introspective type, I did a quick mental review of my actions from the previous night. Had I kidnapped anyone and strapped them to a chair facing a slideshow of all my illustrations, eyelids forcibly held apart à la Clockwork Orange? I took a sip of tea. No, I doubt I would forget something like that.
Indeed, this anonymous emailer had simply blasted off some typical, unsolicited, anti-gay criticis—ramming it in my face, if you will—after visiting my website voluntarily and staying long enough to become angry for some reason. His final words almost helped me narrow down which of my articles he might be referring to: “Straights don’t have parades to celebrate their straightness,” he observed. “You do harm to yourselves when you say ‘we’re just like straights… we’re equals, but look at us dressed half naked and prancing around in the streets.’”
It was actually kind of timely, for hate mail. Summer marks Pride celebrations worldwide. It’s lovely: Bears come out of hibernation, gays everywhere reclaim their local gyms, and cities across the world get a whole lot more colourful. No longer just a parade, Pride festivals are now massive, weeklong cultural celebrations, generating significant tourism dollars. Pride Toronto alone brings in an estimated $100 million annually in taxed, tourist spending. Assuming my anonymous critic is a Conservative supporter (and they usually are), you’d think he’d at least be a little happy about all this commercial revenue.
In 2009, the Conservative government announced that they had allocated $400,000 of federal money to Toronto Pride in order to make the festival events more accessible to disabled persons. It was both a surprising and welcome gesture, but short-lived. The Tories, somehow angered by their own funding announcement, suddenly removed the minister responsible for the funding from her duties. Shortly after, Montréal’s Divers/Cité was denied their expected funding weeks before it was set to begin, as was the city’s Black and Blue event. The new policy continued this year as well; organizers of Pride Toronto were shocked when they learned—through the media—that their requested funds had been denied by the Tories. (If you’re a fan of Burlington’s annual Ribfest, though, don’t fret. $98,610 in federal dollars is still coming your way.)
Since Pride festivals enrich Canada’s culture and generate significant tourism, these funding cuts probably aren’t from any sound fiscal planning, but are more likely done at the request of a loud minority of Canadians who, like my anonymous emailer, feign some kind of profound personal violation from any celebration of gay culture. To them, our entire lives amount to perversion and our festivals are nothing more than ramming sexuality into faces. They’re also the ones who repeatedly remind us that there are no such thing as straight pride parades and that, since we somehow aspire to be just like them, we shouldn’t have gay ones.
To their credit, they’re right about one thing: There are no straight pride parades—at least, not on any serious scale. It would be silly if there were. What would the symbol of pride mean to the straight community, if it’s even cohesive enough to be called that? No one is trying to dismiss straight relationships as being unworthy of marriage. No one is opposing the legal rights of straights. No one is reducing the “straight lifestyle”—and all expressions of it, such as holding hands in public—as flaunting sexuality. With no one wagging their fingers to make straights feel ashamed, there’s no need to counter it with pride.
And that’s probably for the best. Considering how badly all those who lament about not having straight pride parades mischaracterize gay ones, I doubt very much that I would enjoy what they have in mind. It would probably conclude with a live birth.